One-Arm Chin-Up Tips

One-Arm Chin-UpThe One-Arm Chin-Up.

I can’t be more official because it’s the skill that everyone admires (or at least should admire). True master of One-Arm Chin-Up possesses such biceps and lats (for their bodyweight, of course) that all conventional bodybuilders will silently stand in the corner, cry and burn from envy. He obtains arm strength to match that size.

Some people think that this feat of strength is out of reach. Especially heavyweight ones. But it isn’t so. I heard of at least two persons that are approx. 100 kg (220 lbs). I don’t remember the name of the first one but the second is Metin a.k.a. LittleBeastM. You have probably seen his videos. If not, then here’s link to his YouTube channel: LittleBeastM’s YouTube Channel. You should definitely check this guy out. He’s probably the heaviest guy to perform such feats of bodyweight strength.

Anyway, let’s get back to tips.

Train Mostly with Singles

If you can make sustainable progress, it is better to train with singles. Here is the logic behind this statement. One-Arm Chin-Up is a complex feat of strength. It has lots of details to work on. Different parts of the move require individual attention. It is not some low-skill exercise like Lat Pulldown or Bench Press. It is completely different kind of beast.

It is obvious that your initial goal should be completing just one perfect repetition (hence the feat of strength category). That is why it is great to train yourself in a feat-of-strength way with singles. However, it will work only if you can divide the whole progression into really small steps.

One of the best ways to implement singles is Rest-Pause Training. Let me explain it to you. Pick progression step that is fairly hard, but you can do three perfect reps in. Perform single rep with right arm. Rest for 30 seconds. Then perform single rep with left arm. Rest for 30 seconds. And so on until you hit 5-6 singles per arm. Call it a day. Return 2-3 days later and repeat. Usually it would take couple training sessions to hit 10 singles per arm. You have several options after that. You can either shave off 5 seconds from rest periods and work back up to 10 singles per arm, or you can pick a bit harder variation and start over with 5-6 singles.

In addition, you should understand several things:

  1. Single repetition consists of 4 phases: bottom hold, positive phase, top hold, negative phase. Time required for completion of all these phases combines into total called “time under tension”. When we are working with singles, it’s important to understand that progress can be measured in different ways. And increased time under tension is one of them. So if you struggle with adding sets or intensity don’t forget that you always can increase time under tension.
  2. Rest-Pause in not the only way to progress in singles.
  3. Singles are always hard. For One-Arm Chin-Up training it’s ultra-true. Adding reps may seem impossible sometimes, but you can always use classic singles-to-reps progression scheme. It looks like this: at first you work on increasing number of single rep sets. Once you hit 10 sets of 1, you can try couple of sets of 2. Work up to 8-10 sets of 2 reps and try couple of sets of 3. After this point your progress should be a bit easier (or not). When to use it? Obviously, after you got your first full rep and during getting it when you need to build up assisted or partial reps to progress further

Pick Progression That Is The Most Effective for You

There are tons of progressions toward the One-Arm Chin-Up. The most effective are considered rope or towel assisted, finger assisted and rock climbers’. Rope assisted is the best for me. I can always carry the rope in my bag. It feels the most natural. The main thing is that with rope assistance you can adjust intensity similarly to the barbell. Just count the fists on the rope and you’re all set. It’s very important for me. So you get it. Pick progression that suits you.

UPDATE: It’s not that simple anymore. I think, the best progress can be achieved through mixing different approaches and finding what works for you

Don’t Hit It Too Often

One-Arm Chin-Up is not that exercise that you want to overdo. Firstly, you can’t progress fast in it. Secondly, because of increased risk of injury. Once a week works awesome for me. You should experiment to find out how’s best for you.

UPDATE: Depending on intensity you can handle, you can add more frequent work and see how it effects your progress. For example, if you can do partial OACU reps (2/3 of range of movement and harder) and weighted negatives, you can try adding bodyweight negatives every day and see what impact it will make on your progress.

One-Arm Negatives and Static Hangs

One-Arm Chin-Up Negatives are quite powerful tool in your arsenal if used properly. How to use them?

  1. Count time of the comedown. 6-12 seconds are optimal for me.
  2. Add weight to them when you hit at least 3 sets of 12 seconds per arm.
  3. If you don’t want to add weight, you can pause at different points of the descent. My preference is One-Arm Chin-Up Negative with 5 second hold at the top, 5 second hold at 90 degrees and 5 seconds hold in the flexed hang (near the bottom of the movement).
  4. Also you can mix assisted positive phase with full negative. For example, perform Rope Assisted OACU but at the top release assisting hand and perform full OACU Negative. This is good intermediate step in learning OACU.

In my opinion, One-Arm Static Holds are also very useful. Bottom hang is useful for grip strength and endurance. 90 degree hang is useful for strength in the middle part of OACU and moving past sticking point. Top hang is generally useful in One-Arm Chin-Up work. Practice them but don’t overdo.

That’s it. I hope it will help you in your quest for the One-Arm Chin-Up. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to subscribe and like.

Play rough!

Alex Zinchenko

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32 thoughts on “One-Arm Chin-Up Tips

  1. Ben

    What’s your opinion on one arm negatives with static hangs e.g static hang at top, lowering to 90 degree static hang. Is that worthwhile? Great article.

    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Well, I think it worth a try, Ben. It should have positive impact on One-Arm Chin-Up ability. Of course if you make it progressive. Thanks for commenting. Try it and let me know how it worked for you.

  2. FitnessFAQs

    Great writeup, However.

    I disagree with what you said about the eccentric oac/oap’s. These were very effective in allowing me to achieve the OAP.

  3. Jonathan F.V.

    Hey, nice site! Here’s a few more precisions about what I find works really well for the one arm chin. First, negatives are not useless at the beginning. I thing that once you’re able to do a few good negatives, you should just replace them with the static holds. For the statics holds, I found that I had a much better improvement if I was working them using maximum strength holds. Per example, I’d do 2×5 different angles holds for less than 6 seconds. But everytime I do a hold, I try to lift, but can’t cause I’m not strong enough. At some point, you get strong enough to lift, but you still want to do static holds, so you just add some weight, per example hold something just heavy enough so you can lock it for around one second at each angle. Then you use that approximate weight until you can hold each angle for close to 5 seconds. In one training, I use 2 sets of 5 angles (with enough rest between each angle), then 2 sets of 2 or 3 Archer chins, and as soon as I could, I replaced the Archer chins with box one arm chins, then progressively lowered the height of the box. Still do the static holds with the box chins (box chins with arm pretty straight, almost dead hang but still not quite).

    For various reasons, that’s the fourth time I have to learn the one arm chin over the last 7 years, and this time, screw that, I’m not losing it again. Hope my insight was helpful!

  4. Marcus

    Man, I’m finding some great articles here. I mean, most people don’t write about One-Arm Chin-Ups or stuff like that, Great read, thanks!

    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Thanks. That’s why I started RS. There’s not much information on such kind of training out there. So a lot of experimentation is required. And if somebody, like me, is interested in this I can share my experience with him/her and make his/her training better and more effective.

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  7. OAC - pursuer

    A great read, and thank you because I was wondering of a few things with my OAC training.

    I’m, progressing my way to a one arm chin and currently at a stage where I can lock at the top and at 90 degrees consecutively. Actually after many towel assisted ones I decide to let go of my towel grabbing hand one day and try to descend as slowly as possible. I squeezed my arm so hard that I ended up holding there instead of dropping down….and that actually took me by surprise as I wasn’t even sure I was able to hold. Then I slowly released and again I was surprised I was able to hold again halfway. I giggled (yeah) and dropped, and hurt my bicep and possibly injured my elbow. I’m taking a rest and will come back in 3 weeks to learn to pull up from a 90 degree hold (probably still with a little assistance with a towel). I’m not in excruciating pain, just a little uncomfortable. But is this a skill that is easy to lose? I’m worried I might not be able to do it again once I come back to it (other than not being able to heal fast enough).

    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Thanks. My answer is if you even lose this skill you’ll be able to regain it faster than the first time. It all depends on individual.

      – Alex

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  12. Daniel black

    Well done there is a lot of great natural ways to get strong and ways to test your body’s ability to everyone strength ! Will look forward to reading all the articals thanks for all the information and will look forward to reading and testing out new ways of training .

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  15. drarry

    how do you do one arm chinup negatives, or even a one arm flex hang? i can do 15 chinups and whenever i attempt a one arm flex hang, i immediatley drop down. how do i condition for these?

    1. Alex Zinchenko Post author

      Hey, Drarry,

      You can try assisted One-Arm Top Hangs. To perform them, you will need a rope, a towel, or the all-mighty pulley system.

      With the first two, grab a bar with one arm and the assistance with the other. Pull yourself up and hold. The lower you grab the assistance (the towel or the rope), the harder the exercise will be.

      For the last one, read the article in the link.

      – Alex

      1. drarry

        thanks. i dont have access to so much equipment,but since assistance is key, ill try them finger assisted as i work. 10 singles on each arm is BRUTAL! just started training today :)

          1. drarry

            i work with a different method than singles now, as its more intense but not to failure. i did assisted oac negatives, and i got my first one today. granted, it want controlled, but i was able to resist the gravity. at least i know im capable. cant wait for my first oac

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